Moore, Oklahoma was torn apart on Monday afternoon by an enormous tornado, which was very reminiscent of the May 3, 1999 tornado. Neighborhoods and two schools were completely destroyed–shocking enough, even though the medical examiner did lower the number of deaths from 51 to 24.
Thanks to advanced technology and excellent meteorologists, including the infamous Gary England on NEWS 9, Oklahomans knew of the risk days ago. They, along with National Weather Service in Norman, OK, even nailed down the time the storms would start. If it not for them, the death toll would be through the roof.
I live in Edmond, which was hit by a tornado on Sunday, and about 20 miles north of Moore. The outer bands reached my area as I picked up my daughter from school.
The experienced storm chasers allowed Oklahomans to watch the entire event on Monday. It started at 2:30 p.m. when the tornado touched down in Newcastle. It slowly gathered strength as it moved towards Moore. By the time it arrived the tornado was almost two miles wide, but the debris around it expanded it even more.
Words cannot describe how you feel watching it happen live, knowing it is only a few miles away. While it is happening all you can do is hope and pray for those in its path.
Two elementary schools took a direct hit. Briarwood Elementary School students and teachers took shelter in hallways and under desks. There were minor injuries, but all students were accounted for.
Unfortunately, Plaza Towers Elementary School did not have the same outcome. Children and staff were still trapped in the debris and by nightfall emergency workers brought in cadaver dogs.
Oklahomans have a strong sense of community and are always willing to help. We preach the importance of helping those in need and we back it up.
As soon as the tornado was headed towards a very populated area, Oklahomans were already asking what they could do to help their neighbors. Immediately the Red Cross released a phone number and NEWS 9 offered to take donations to the regional food bank.
Then NEWS 9 said they were taking donations at their station. People showed up right away. I leapt off my couch, emptied my pantry and bathroom of any items people might need, and headed to the station. Here are a few pictures:
The line was very long. One truck had 65 packages of bottled water. They received over $30,000 in cash donations and many brought diapers and individually wrapped snacks.
We really do come together and practice what we preach: Help your neighbor.
People on social media have said that they wish they could help. They can. You can text: STORM to 80888 for Salvation Army, REDCROSS to 90999 for Redcross, FOOD to 32333 for Food Bank.
If you live in Oklahoma, NEWS 9 is taking donations at their station. The address is 7401 N. Kelley Avenue in Oklahoma City. Please bring water, gloves, boots, toiletries, power bars, Gatorade. They will accept cash.
Do not forget your furry family members!! Benchmark Animal Hospital is helping with injured animals. Please call 405-547-8381 and their address is 1701 W. 116th Street in Perkins. Animal Resource Center is taking in displaced animals and have shelter. They are located at 7949 S. I-35 Service Road and their phone is 405-604-2892. The Moore Home Depot is also helping with animals. They are at 650 SW 19th Street and their phone is 405-895-6064.
Please follow #okwx for updates and other ways you can help Oklahoma.